Are you thinking about a career in the healthcare field? Have you considered working as a radiologic technologist?
As a radiologic technologist, you have the opportunity to care for patients in a similar fashion that doctors and nurses do. However, the career path to becoming a radiologic technologist is very unique.
What do you need to do?
Check out this guide to learn about the education and certification it takes to become a radiologic technologist.
What is a Radiologic Technologist?
Before we talk about how to become a radiologic technologist, let’s first discuss what this career entails.
As a radiologic technologist, you’ll be responsible for performing diagnostic imaging procedures on patients. These procedures may include x-rays, MRIs, or CT scans. While most technologists work in hospitals, some also work in doctors’ offices and other clinical settings.
Radiologic technologists take on the following responsibilities:
- Adjusting and maintaining imaging equipment
- Keeping detailed patient records
- Following physicians’ orders in regards to taking images of the correct areas of the body
- Preparing patients for procedures by talking to them about their medical history, answering questions, and putting them at ease
- Positioning the imaging equipment and patients in the right spot in order to get the correct image
- Shielding exposed areas on patients that don’t need to be imaged in order to protect them
- Operating computerized equipment to take images
You’ll also work alongside radiologists to read images and determine if more images need to be taken. Whether administering radiation therapy to fight cancer or taken an x-ray to determine a breakage, radiologic technologists play a very important role in the healthcare industry.
How to Become a Radiologic Technologist
So, what does it take to become a radiologic technologist? Here’s what your education path will look like:
Earn an Associate’s Degree
To become a radiologic technologist, you must first earn an associate’s degree. Throughout the nation, there are associate’s programs in radiologic technology that take about two years to complete.
During your program, you’ll learn how to produce images of a patient’s body parts in order to diagnose injuries and ailments. Your courses will typically cover anatomy and physiology, radiologic exposure, radiographic equipment, and radiation protection.
You’ll also attend clinical practicums during your degree program that prepare you for hands-on work in the field. When selecting an associate’s program, you want to make sure you opt for one that’s accredited.
Without appropriate accreditation, you may not qualify for licensure through your state.
Complete an Internship
Many employers require that you have some experience operating radiologic equipment before you apply for a job.
While you’ll gain some experience through your clinical practicums, undergoing an internship can help you gain even more hands-on experience in the field and better prepare you for your career. Typically, you can find internships through local hospitals or at medical facilities associated with your college.
During your internship, you’ll have the opportunity to work under an experienced radiologic technologist. You’ll also have the opportunity to develop your interpersonal skills and your bedside manner.
Many patients experience high-stress levels before imaging procedures, and it’s the job of the radiologic technologist to calm them down and talk them through their concerns.
Obtain Your License
After graduating from school and working an internship, it’s time to obtain your license in radiologic technologies.
Licensing requirements vary by state, so be sure to look into your own state’s requirements before applying. Typically, to earn your license, you’ll need to pass a certification exam that’s administered by the state through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.
After earning your license, you can begin applying for jobs. You’ll also need to fulfill continuing education requirements in order to maintain employment.
You may also want to consider earning a specialty certification in order to earn a higher salary and broaden your career options.
The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists offers both primary and specialized certifications for radiologic technologists. Primary certifications you may want to consider include:
- MRI certification
- Sonography certification
- Radiation therapy certification
Examples of specialized certifications include:
- Vascular sonography
- Breast sonography
- Quality management
- Cardiac-interventional radiography
- Vascular-interventional radiography
- Computed tomography
- Cardiovascular-interventional radiography
We recommend getting a couple of years of experience in the field before undertaking additional certifications.
As we mentioned earlier, radiologic technologists have continuing education requirements they need to meet.
As a technologist, you’re required to renew your certification every two years. To renew your certification, you must either earn 24 credit hours each year to stay current, or, you must be awarded further certifications in other specialties through the AART (as discussed above).
Typically, the hospital or clinic you work for will help to ensure that you meet these requirements so you can continue your employment with them. You can check out this site to learn more about radiologic technologist continuing education.
What’s the Job Outlook Like?
The great thing about becoming a radiologic technologist is that careers are abundant in this field. According to the BLS, job outlook for radiologic technologists is expected to grow by 7 percent through 2029, which is a faster rate than the national average.
Additionally, you can expect to make a decent living as a radiologic technologist, with the median salary being a little above $62,000 per year.
Are You Ready to Become a Radiologic Technologist?
Now that you know how to become a radiologic technologist, it’s time to start your career journey. Before you know it, you’ll be working your dream job.
Be sure to check back in with our blog for more career guides.